United States-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) has successfully concluded its annual conference at the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, DC on March 1-2, 2017 with the support of the Embassy of Azerbaijan.
The conference was organized with platinum sponsorship of PASHA Bank, gold sponsorship of BP, SOCAR, Anglo-Asian Mining Plc and silver sponsorship of Gilan Holding, Baker McKenzie, Chevron, WCC International and Boeing. Seven reputable international organizations supported the conference as partners: the EBRD, the World Bank, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AmCham Azerbaijan, Caspian Policy Center, Global Chamber and American Turkish Council.
The theme of 2017 USACC Annual Conference was “Looking Ahead: Diplomacy, Business, Trade & Investment” and celebration of 25th anniversary of United States-Azerbaijan diplomatic relations. The event brought together 38 distinguished speakers, over 250 participants representing American and Azerbaijani government agencies and companies, leading American think-tanks, international organizations, America’s Fortune 500 companies, large investment banks and funds as well as members of diplomatic corps.
USACC Executive Director Susan Sadigova and Co-Chairman Reza Vaziri opened the conference, welcomed the guests and recalled the importance of 25 years of friendship and successful partnership between the United States and Azerbaijan in various fields, including energy, trade and business and USACC’s role in maintaining these relations over the past two decades. USACC Honorary Advisor, former Governor of New Hampshire, former Chief of Staff of President George H.W. Bush and well-known American politician John Sununu also delivered his congratulations on the occasion of 25th anniversary of bilateral relations, praised cooperation with Azerbaijan, stressed the strategic importance to the United States and prospects of moving the bilateral relations forward.
Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the United States Elin Suleymanov set the tone for the rest of the conference by commending the occasion of 25th anniversary of relations, outlining key issues that both countries face today and emphasized the importance of future strategic relations.
Ambassador then read the congratulatory letter to USACC members from His Excellency Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan.
Deputy Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan Sahib Mammadov delivered the next keynote remarks by touching upon the history of economic development in the country over the past 25 years. He highlighted the importance of economic diversification away from oil and gas and noted that Azerbaijan is the largest trade partner of the United States in the South Caucasus. According to Deputy Minister, the importance of the trade partnership is reflected in the number of trade missions of American companies to Azerbaijan, organized on a regular basis.
Next keynote speaker Mary B. Warlick, Acting Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs at U.S. Department of State called Azerbaijan a reliable partner and touched upon the third meeting of the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), recently held in Baku. She then delivered the message from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that reinforced the full support of the United States for SGC, and highlighted the priority role of Azerbaijan in diversification of energy routes, bringing additional gas sources and volumes to Europe and progressing relations with Azerbaijan.
Ambassador of the United States to Azerbaijan Robert Cekuta congratulated the conference participants on the occasion of 25th anniversary, touched upon the historic relationship between the two countries and potential for further strategic cooperation.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Holly Vineyard also highlighted the importance of economic diversification and the role that American companies can play to support the country. Ms. Vineyard added that the United States is ready to support the modernization and diversification of Azerbaijan’s economy.
Keynotes were followed by six sessions throughout the day. Regional Strategic Goals session with the participation of former special envoy of U.S. Department of State Amos Hochstein, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of U.S. Department of Defense (Pentagon) and others discussed the role of Azerbaijan in ensuring regional energy diversification, security and transit potential.
New Regional Energy Map session with the participation of SOCAR VP Vitaliy Baylarbayov, BP VP Bakhtiyar Aslanbayli, Statoil VP Al Cook and others discussed the importance of SGC not only for energy diversification, but also its overall role in political transformation of the region.
The following sessions on Banking and Finance, Doing Business in Azerbaijan, Public-Private Partnerships and Investments Beyond Oil featured an exciting line-up of speakers representing PASHA Bank, ExIm Bank, BNY Mellon, Center for Analyses of Economic Reforms and Communications, OPIC, Azersun Holding, Gilan Holding, SOFAZ, Cisco, EBRD, the World Bank, Azerbaijan Investment Company, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Azerbaijan State Committee on Property Issues, Baker McKenzie, Dentons, Deloitte, PwC, Maroon Capital Group and other leading companies and entities.
Day 2 of the conference continued with closed roundtable meetings with the participation of Azerbaijani delegation and American companies.
2017 USACC Annual Conference had a record level of participation from both countries and generated significant interest on social media.
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz